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Riley Weinstein hailed as a hero

Canyon High School senior finds ways to make a difference

Posted: December 15, 2009 10:31 p.m.
Updated: December 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Canyon High School senior Riley Weinstein, who has Cavernous Angioma, has been hailed as a hero at her school. Weinstein produced a benefit concert in May.

 
Courteous, sweet, funny, kind, intelligent and creative are some of the words that describe Riley Weinstein, a 12th-grade hero at Canyon High. While most of us are too involved in our studies, or our friends for that matter, Weinstein is making it known that we can make a difference in a big way.

Beginning at the age of 2 1/2, Weinstein suffered from Cavernous Angioma, a serious tumor in her brain. This resulted in 20 brain surgeries and five strokes. She was left paralyzed and barely able to move.

Weinstein regained strength but was still left with the inability to show any sort of emotion on her face. Many would call Riley’s condition a disability but Weinstein has something to say about that.

“It’s not a disability. We are not disabled. We are still able to live normal lives.” Weinstein said.

All her life, Weinstein was belittled for her physical characteristics much like other kids with special needs, but Weinstein strongly believes that the bullying and ridicule that was placed upon her has helped her to be the person that she is today. Weinstein began her journey at Carousel Ranch, a ranch that mixes horseback riding and physical therapy for children with disabilities. She not only loved to ride horses but she found out she loved to help others.

Weinstein then combined her intense passion for dancing and her love for helping those with special needs and developed a dance class for kids with special needs, whether mental or physical, at the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts. In this class Weinstein is the instructor and her students are her close friends.

“I feel so lucky to be able to give my students the opportunity to get active,” Weinstein said. Her biggest goal is “to teach these kids that anything they set their mind to, they can achieve.”

Last May, Weinstein produced a benefit concert, showcasing her success with her work at both Carousel Ranch and the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts. The function, appropriately titled “Getting the Word Out,” was a huge success. About 400 people showed up to rock out to an alternative band, Malbec.

Weinstein raised approximately $3,000 and all the money went toward her dance class in hopes it will grow even bigger than it already is. Weinstein is planning another benefit concert next year and she is hoping there will be many more that follow.

Weinstein is a strong voice for all ages of people who live with these serious issues beyond their control. To those who do not believe in themselves, Weinstein has this to say: “Look at me doing all of this. We can do anything we put our minds to. We all have special needs, and just because some of our needs are more unique than others doesn’t mean we still can’t achieve anything we want.”

Juliana Menchaca is a student at Canyon High School.

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